Photo by Olivier Matthys


Interactions With Other Organisms

The Southern Cassowary has a surprising number of what could be called mutualistic relationships.  What the Southern Cassowary does to help other organisms it does by spreading the seeds of fruiting plants that make up most of its diet such as the wild grape, the fruits of various palm trees, and fruits from the nightshade (Cassowary, 2014).  It disperses seeds in a large quantity continuously through its fecal droppings after ingesting the fruit of the plant.  In a study done by M. Bradford, A. Dennis, and D. Westcott they observed that the fecal droppings of multiple cassowaries contained about 56 species.  This bird is a huge aid to plants dispersing their seeds.


Cassowaries like many organisms are host to parasites of all sorts.  A common relatively new species of feather mite genus, Hexacaudalges,  was found on a cassowary in 2007.  Mites are the most common non-microscopic parasite of the cassowary family (Owen, 2011).

The Cassowary is a significant food source for several large predatory organisms.  The most prominent and common is actually the human.  Cassowaries are heavily hunted to an extreme degree, usually close to populated areas.  River floodplains attract various species of cassowaries resulting in a dense population (Birdlife, 2001).   Cassowaries are a significant food source for communities that survive on each kill, also called subsistence communities while providing significant cultural importance (Birdlife, 2001).  Cassowaries hold a certain prestige among these communities

Humans have been using cassowaries for a food source since inhabiting the environment they are found.  Southern Cassowaries, as stated above, are a significant figure in cultural importance for the people who hunt them for sustenance.  Cassowary feathers and bones are utilized as decoration and gifts; tools made of carrowary bones are also prominent (Birdlife, 2001).  When a hunter captures a chick (newborn cassowary) it is brought back to the village to be domesticated for either trade or as a food source.

Cassowaries are a type of organism called frugivores, these are organisms whose diet almost exclusively consists of fruiting plants, small and large.  Cassowaries eat a wide variety of fruiting bodies off of the plants themselves.

There are three main levels to the food web that contains the cassowary.  These levels are the primary producer or the fruits and other plants, the primary consumer known as the cassowary, and finally the secondary consumer which is most commonly the human.

Click here to advance to Facts about the Southern Cassowary

Click here to return Home